South Korea's Busan to Get State-Backed Film Production Center

35 FEA Busan FF Cinema Center Exterior H
Nathan Willock/

At 92 yards, the roof of the Cinema Center is reportedly the longest free cantilever ever built. "Our aim is to defy gravity," says Wolf Prix of architecture firm Coop Himmelblau.

A new complex featuring three state-of-the-art stages and postproduction facilities will open in the city, which has seen an increasing number of Chinese film productions in recent years.

The South Korean culture ministry and Busan metropolitan government signed a pact on Tuesday to build a film production center in the southern port city. The increasing number of local and foreign — in particular Chinese — films being shot in the city is a key driver behind the initiative.

Two indoor studios, one outdoor site, postproduction facilities, as well as a center for production and funding will be constructed near the Gijang Ceramics Village in Gijang County. Construction is due to begin in 2017, with completion planned by 2019 on the 917,690-square-meter site. Three more studios will be added at a later date. The budget for the project was not announced.

The new center is expected to boost the cinema culture of Busan, which is already home to one of the country's largest film studio complexes, Busan Cinema Studios, as well as the Busan Cinema Center, which is the main venue for the annual Busan International Film Festival. The Korean Film Council, Korea Media Rating Board and other local media-related bodies are also located in the city, which was designated a UNESCO "City of Film" last year.

Moreover, Busan has seen an increasing number of domestic and foreign film productions — most notably projects from neighboring China. The Korea-China co-production Meet Miss Anxiety (sequel to the 2001 pan-Asian hit My Sassy Girl) and Taiwanese TV series Marry Me, or Not? were filmed in the city.

Bombing of Chongqing, the U.S.-China joint venture starring Bruce Willis and Asian superstar Song Seung-hun, is currently undergoing 3D scanning at Busan's Digital Bay, one of Asia's main virtual studios. Chinese companies have been showing strong interest in Korea's VFX industry, most notably China's Wanda Group by becoming a major shareholder of Dexter Studios. The Chinese giant is also launching a $180-million joint film fund with Busan city.

Overall, 17 features have been shot in the city as of June this year, which is already two more than for all of 2014. In spite of the local outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which had prompted the Shanghai International Film Festival to disinvite Korean guests, more Chinese movies have signed up to utilize Busan's studios in the latter half of the year, according to the Busan Film Commission.

"Some of the location scouting or film productions that were due to take place in the city were canceled or postponed due to MERS, but we expect things to return to normal soon," said a spokesperson for the Busan Film Commission.